The Sport of Kings
After switching labels, Triumph were persuaded to record 1986’s The Sport of Kings with producer Ron Nevison, who'd recently helped hard rock acts like Survivor and Ozzy Osbourne crack the American pop market. After clashing with Triumph over “creative differences,” Nevison quit the project midstream and was replaced by a young engineer named Mike Clink, who'd soon go on to record classic albums with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. Clink’s focus on song structures and tight-knit sonics resulted in some of the best tunes of the group’s career, including “Tears in the Rain,” “Don’t Love Anybody Else but Me,” and “Hooked on You.” Clink helped restore some of the band’s rawness with “Take a Stand,” in which the drums and guitar punch their way through a veneer of synthesizer. While longtime Triumph fans weren't crazy about the band’s tilt toward AOR, you have to give them credit for their integrity. While Def Leppard and Foreigner sugarcoated their songs to get radio’s attention, songs like “Just One Night” and “If Only” retained Triumph’s essential ferocity, even if they were a little gentler.